I couldn't quite believe he was aiming us right into the fire. He sure
didn't look suicidal, but whatever he had in mind was beyond me.
At last he grabbed the mutated gearshift. I managed to keep one eye
on his hands as the wildfire bore down on us. Now we'd see something.
The conical hood omament suddenly pronged forward, stretching out
through a widening hole until it looked like a robot anteater snout.
Then it shot out a brilliant sky-blue stream of some glowing, crackling
liquid unlike anything I'd ever seen, all over the onrushing flames.
"Great Zot! What is that stuff?"
"Condensed space-juice. Supercooled fresh-squeezed electron fluid.
Trees can't bum under a high negative charge."
There was a lot more of it firing out from under us through that
nozzle than we could possibly have room for in any concealed tanks.
"Where's it all coming from?"
"We draw it in as needed, and crush-cool it on the spot. No one misses
it; there's at least ten to the ninety-fourth watt-seconds per cubic
centimeter, everywhere in space, including space full of matter. The primary
carrier wave of the physical universe is around sixty octaves
higher than an electron's diameter." He switched hands, kept blasting
away and pointed at a spot on the spectrum chart in the upper zone
unknown to me. "The higher the frequency, the greater the energy
density. Establish resonance with space-juice itself and you can obtain
virtually unlimited power."
The sizzling, metallic turquoise liquid was spreading out incredibly
fast wherever it hit, engulfing the flames in big round patches. It
sounded like a cross between distant artillery and huge sails flapping in
a gale as it rolled out over the blaze. The stuff went from shiny to
blurry, and expanded into thick mats of blue-white fog, as if to cool and
soothe whatever might survive of the forest.
We tilted around the western rim of the burned area, mopping up
several hot spots missed by the main volley. The pulses of juice didn't
follow exactly smooth trajectories but seemed to crackle slightly as if
along lightning discharge paths.
The otter didn't appear to be even remotely scared by all this. He just
stood resting a paw against my seat, watching and making chortling
I found my voice again, "Is this another one of those suppressed
"Not exactly; this one really was a bit ahead of its time. Liquid
electricity doesn't have many useful applications until you make available
a virtually unlimited electron supply. The basic idea was developed by
a guy named Richard Diggs back in the late seventies, though he didn't
foresee this embodiment at the time."